The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning have both been on fire as of late, but it's the Boston Bruins who really need this game if they are to get a sniff of the post-season. See who we like in this intriguing game as our betting pick.
Ice-time is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. According to the NHL betting odds, the Bruins are a -120 betting favorite and the total for the game is 5.5 goals.The Bruins are clearly the betting favorites due to the fact that this game will be played in Boston.
It unconfirmed as of this time that Ben Bishop will be in net for the Lightning, but Tuukka Rask "is likely" to be between the pipes for the Bruins. Rask's status is from a reliable source.
Rask will need to be at his best as the Lightning are the #1 team in the NHL in goals at 3.3 goals per game. At 27-16-10 with a 2.31 GAA, Rask doesn't necessarily have the record that he should as he's lacked goal support from his team, which is a defensive-oriented team. In his last 2 games, Rask has been a monster, knocking aside 68 out of 71 shots and winning both games,
As for Bishop, he carries nearly an identical GAA to that of Rask, but due to goal support is an eye-popping 33-11-3 this season. He has also won his last 2 games in a row, but has only had to face 46 shots. The bottom line is that Boston's offense will need to step up in order to compete against a team like the Lightning. Odds makers are a bit off on this game as Tampa Bay is the better hockey club.
The Story Of This Game
The Lightning's offense is the focal point of this game. Despite coming off of a 1-0 overtime win, the offense has carried this team near the top of the NHL. 3 good reasons for this have been the play of Tyler Johnson, Steven Stamkos, and Nikita Kucherov. All 3 of these player have 25 goals or more on the season.
Stamkos is the most aggressive of the bunch with over 200 shots on goal for the season, but Tyler Johnson is also a very important cog to this team's success.
Johnson leads the Lightning in scoring (25 goals, 40 assist) and is coming into this game with a lot of momentum. He scored the loan goal in the 1-0 OT victory over Montreal which included 6 shots on net. Johnson has also scored a point in each of his last 5 games. Look for this momentum to carry over as most of the action will be on Boston's side of the ice,
Boston is coming off of a 3-1 victory over Ottawa. Ryan Spooner was declared the "3 star" player of the game as he potted 2 goals in this game. If Spooner can continue this type of play, he'll make Boston a dangerous team as most of their offense relies upon Patrice Bergeron who has less than 50 points for the season.
As for Spooner, he has 3 goals and 5 assists in just 13 games on the season, but has scored a point in each of his last 5 games. Although Bishop is a top-notch goalie, Boston could make this a fast paced game. Will Spooner continue his brief moment of success is the question? If he does, the pressure will be lifted to a degree off of players such as Brad Marchand and Loui Eriksson.
I can't resist taking the Lightning as a betting underdog with my NHL picks when they are clearly the better team, with a very good goalie in Bishop, and the league's best offense.
NHL Pick- Tampa Bay +100 at 5Dimes